State v. Diaz

In March 2013, NJDC signed on to an amicus brief filed by the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, urging the Supreme Court to affirm the trial court’s ruling that 15-year-old Maricela Diaz did not knowingly and intelligently waive her Miranda rights before a nine-hour interrogation, and suppressing her confession, a decision that was reversed by the appellate court.

Amici called upon existing law and urged the Court to expand the protections afforded to youth facing police interrogations. Although South Dakota has a parental notification statute which applies when a child is taken into custody, in Maricela’s case the police failed to comply with the statute, misled her mother about the nature of the police interrogation of her daughter, and prevented her from speaking with her daughter until after they had obtained the confession. Additionally, the police failed to record the entirety of Maricela’s nine-hour interrogation, and did not explain to Maricela what her Miranda rights meant in words that she could understand, even though they knew that English was her second language. Moreover, Maricela never expressly waived her Miranda rights at any point during the interrogation.

Amici urged the court to join states that have adopted a “meaningful parental consultation” standard and provide juveniles with the right to a meaningful consultation with an interested adult (parent, guardian, or attorney) prior to interrogation. While amici in the brief only asked that the court provide juveniles with a right to meaningful consultation with an interested adult, amici made clear that the better rule is to require “meaningful attorney consultation” for juveniles. Additionally, amici asked the court to avoid “implied waiver” of Miranda rights in cases involving juveniles; specifically, to ensure that a suspect’s youth and language barriers do not impermissibly disadvantage juveniles for whom English is a second language, by requiring police to ask suspects to explain (in their own words or language) back to police what each Miranda right means. Further, amici asked the Court to mandate the electronic recording of the entirety of custodial statements made by juveniles.

The Court heard oral argument on September 30, 2013.

Court: South Dakota Supreme Court
  March 18, 2013 (download .pdf)
Amicus Brief Discusses: Custodial Statements; Meaningful Consultation with Counsel; Police Interrogations; Statement Suppression

Oral Argument: September 30, 2013
: Pending